A Knowledge-Building Journey Assessing the Existence of a Culture of Research in Social Work Versus Psychology Using the h-Index: Secondary Data Challenges


This study reports data on a case study which is really four individual but related studies which used the same data set. Data included U.S. national rankings published annually by U.S. News and World Report which rate universities and their respective departments. It also used a relatively new metric called the h-index which is available on a free software website called Publish or Perish by Harzing. This allows individuals to put any published author’s name into a large data bank and retrieve instant information about their career citation impact scores on 19 different bibliometrics. These studies, written by social workers and spearheaded by the author, compared faculty in top 25 ranked social work schools to top psychology schools. Each study in succession improved methodologically on the previous one and over the four studies we found that social work scholars produced far less publication impact than did their psychology counterparts. We concluded that this was due to the absence of a research culture in social work. The case study describes the large data set used for data mining and describes how various methodological problems unearthed over time were reconciled. It illustrates how methodological knowledge-building strategies were developed and used over these four studies.

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